Emergencies and Emergency Permitting Procedures

A Corps of Engineers designated emergency is a situation which would result in an unacceptable hazard to life, a significant loss of property, or an immediate, unforeseen, and significant economic hardship if corrective action requiring a permit is not undertaken within a time period less than the normal time needed to process the application under standard procedures.

The Corps may not view an action as an emergency if the applicant has known of the deficient condition of the failing structure and has not made reasonable attempts to secure appropriate permits and conduct timely repairs. Emergency authorization decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

You must notify the Corps Regulatory Branch of the need to perform emergency work. The Corps has the responsibility to determine if the proposed work is consistent with the Corps' definition of an emergency, whether authorization is needed, and if so, which type of authorization is required.

Contact the Corps Regulatory Branch Immediately - Call the Corps Regulatory Branch project manager for your region to discuss the situation. Click here to link to a list of Corps project managers and their regions.  If the project managers are not available, contact the Section or Branch Chief.  They will ask you to provide information as detailed on the template below. If you need to contact the Corps after work hours or on the weekends, please contact the Branch Chief, Ms. Jacalen Printz at (206) 715-7968. The Corps Regulatory Branch fax number in Seattle is (206) 764-6602.

  • Notice of Need for Emergency Work Template (WORD)

Based on the Corps' review of the situation, we will then make the following determinations:

Is a permit required?  If a permit from the Corps is not required, the work can proceed provided local and state permit requirements are met.  If a permit is required, then the appropriate permit procedure will be determined. 

Does the work qualify as a Corps designated emergency? If the work meets the Corps' definition of an emergency, then emergency authorization procedures will be initiated.  Emergency authorization procedures include coordinating with resource agencies, Tribes, and often our Division office in Portland.  This process may take from a few hours to up to a week. Work cannot begin until the Corps states work may commence.  An after-the-fact permit will be required which may involve mitigation and/or removal of all or a portion of the work.  An after-the-fact permit may take over 6 months to obtain.

If the work does not qualify as a Corps designated emergency, then a permit must be obtained prior to any commencement of work.  In certain circumstances we may initiate "expedited" (not emergency) authorization procedures.  This process may take several weeks to complete.  In other cases, the proposed work will be subject to our regular permit process appropriate for the nature and location of the work.  

Make sure you make a good faith effort to contact the Corps' Regulatory Branch before proceeding with work, (e.g., leave a voice mail message or fax with the required information as detailed on the form listed above, before any work commences). If a permit is required and no contact was made, we could consider the work to be a knowing and willful violation. 

Emergency Procedures for Washington State Department of Transportation Projects: 

For emergency work in waters of the U.S. including jurisdictional wetlands, WSDOT will make a good faith effort to notify the Corps’ Regulatory Branch prior to proceeding with the work in those situations that require notification to the Corps.  If a permit is required and no notification was made, the Corps could consider the work a knowing and willful violation.